Tuesday, October 13, 2009


It is so funny to think about this conference I am at in terms of where I am and have been on this whole weight loss journey. With the exception of the first time I went to this conference (2003), I don't have a single conference that does not have a set of weight or clothes memories associated with it. I took a break from the conference in 2004 (more accurately, my advisor didn't have money to pay for me to go and I hadn't done that much research-related work at that point so I could not justify going) and so then I don't have memories from that year either. Let me detail for you each of the memories and how I feel this year.
  • 2005, San Francisco - This was when I was at my lowest weight. I had been working out and eating well since January or February and by the time November rolled around, I had lost 60 lbs and had been plateaued for awhile. I remember looking and feeling pretty stellar. It was my first trip to California and I remember walking up and down the hills of San Francisco being so proud that I could take them on without getting winded or tired. I felt like I was in control of my life and of my health and it felt great.
  • 2006, Pittsburgh - This was the year I was on the job market. I weighed around 245 (up from a low of 229.5) and had started to not work out as much. This was the year I was finishing up my dissertation and finding a job. It was so stressful. If you have never been through the academic job search, you have no idea how stressful it was. Since I had gained weight and most of my clothes were too tight to wear or look good and since I needed to look good at all times (never know who you'll run into and whether they'll be your future employers), I had to go get new clothes for the conference. I looked pretty good in them (they were size 20, up from an 18) and at this point was not self conscious about how I looked (although I was mad at myself about having gained some of the weight back...little did I know at that time that the relatively small weight gain was just the beginning...). I remember feeling for the first time like I was a colleague of these folks at the conference and that I could hold intellegent conversations, not feeling stupid like I didn't know what was going on. I felt all around like I was in a pretty good place, although I was annoyed I didn't fit into any of the (nice, relatively new) clothes I had purchased since I lost the weight.
  • 2007, Seattle - I gained a lot of weight in the year I finished up my dissertation. I had not been good about purchasing clothes as I did that and so many of them were ill-fitting. I remember having to go to Lane Bryant prior to this INFORMS meeting to get new dress up clothes that did not look terrible. They were size 24. Seattle is hilly like San Francisco is, and I struggled with the hills mightily, getting winded whenever I had to go up one. It wasn't great. I roomed with my friend Irina at this conference and she told me how worried she was about my health (we used to work out a lot together). I ignored her and made a lot of excuses. Far from stellar, but I still had a great time at the conference and loved my job at that point.
  • 2008, Washington DC - The year I was in DC, I roomed with a friend named Lori. I usually live by myself so it's really not a huge deal to walk around in a towel that doesn't go all the way around yourself or something like that. However, when you're with other people, it is a big deal. I remember being so self concious of that the year we stayed together. I was like "OMG, I am totally too big to fit into a normal person's world." It was not a great realization or reminder. I didn't have to buy new clothes or anything for this conference, but I just remember not feeling comfortable in my own skin at this conference, at all. Ugh.
  • 2009, San Diego - The reason for this post. Today I am wearing a pair of pants that I bought for the conference in 2006. I like them a lot. They look good on me and fit pretty well. Maybe they are even a little loose. They made me realize how INFORMS could be used as a lens through which to view my very real struggle with this weight over the last 5 or so years. I have gotten several complements on my weight from friends of mine at this conference. In fact, today one couple did not even recognize me because of my haircut and weight loss. However, I am not really happy with where I am. I want to press toward more ambitious health and weight related goals and have something nice to report about INFORMS 2010 in Austin.
Even more importantly, I want to not have to be so focused and obsessed with my weight. Right now it occupies a significant amount of mental effort. I want to move on to the maintenance phase and have it not be a big deal anymore. I am sick of thinking about it so much. I know, though, that I am nowhere near that point yet and it will be awhile.

This post brought to you today courtesy of these gray pants that I wore today and made me think of all this. Thanks for the inspiration, gray pants!

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